Monday, May 10, 2010

State of Good Repair

The Federal Transit Administration, as part of the follow-through on the Obama Administration’s commitment to improving and expanding public transit services in the US, announced a major new funding initiative to address capital and perhaps operating deficiencies in the industry.

In an address to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) conference in Cleveland, Ohio, the FTA Administrator announced the ‘State of Good Repair’ program as reported by that organization in an email blast sent out over the weekend:

“Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), announced a new federal grant program offering $775 million in competitive grants for bus state of good repair—open to all bus operators, ‘large, small, urban, and rural’—during his keynote speech May 2 before an audience of approximately 630 transit professionals at the Opening General Session of the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Cleveland Ohio.

The administrator spoke candidly about the current economic situation, and said: ‘I want to assure you that today’s FTA is facing these issues with our eyes wide open.’

Rogoff discussed the administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget recommendation, stating that ‘far and away the largest percentage increase is just for state of good repair.’ He took pains to make clear that ‘FTA is equally focused on the state of good repair on the rail and the bus systems.’

Under the proposed budget. the bus share will be no less than it is right now and would provide bus riders with a predictable stream of formula funding that currently does not exist.

He concluded by thanking the participants for ‘showing that money in transit is money well spent.’ Rogoff then said: ‘We need to step up our game even when financial times are hard—we need to do things harder and smarter. And as we are stepping up our game, we look forward to being your full partner as you step up yours.’”

The “State of Good Repair” capital projects initiative will make funds available to public transit providers to finance capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct/rehabilitate bus-related facilities, including programs of bus and bus related projects which may include assistance to sub-recipients that are public agencies, private companies engaged in public transportation, or private non-profit organizations. The FTA has set forth priorities for the discretionary funds, the criteria FTA will use to identify meritorious projects for funding, and a description of how to apply.

LANTA staff are reviewing the FTA regulations and application guidelines now to see how these funds could be applied locally. If appropriate, an application will be submitted for this national discretionary fund program.

“We’d like to continue to replace our existing diesel bus fleet with hybrid vehicles,” notes Armand Greco, LANTA Executive Director, “And we are exploring the potential benefits of substituting these funds for current operating obligations to see if that would help the Authority over time fund its major capital programs.”

Five new hybrid vehicles are set to be delivered at the end of May to be placed into service sometime in June, 2010.

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